Taiwan to extend defensive perimeter to 300-500 km by 2025: think tank

01/10/2021 07:29 PM
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M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. CNA file photo
M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 10 (CNA) Taiwan is expected to effectively extend its defensive perimeter to 300-500 kilometers by 2025, when its first indigenous submarine and longer-range missiles from the United States are expected to be in service, according to a government-funded think tank.

The assessment was made in a paper published on the website of the Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR) on Jan. 7.

The paper, written by INDSR's research fellow Ou Si-fu (歐錫富), said the U.S.' sale of 11 sets of M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to Taiwan last October was one of the factors that would allow Taiwan to expand its defensive perimeter.

The HIMARS, a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) mounted on a military truck, is mobile and has a strike distance of 300 kilometers when carrying M57 Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), the report said.

"Theoretically, the HIMARS can provide fire support to military units in Taiwan and in the outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu," the report said.

It can suppress military gatherings in China' coastal areas and hit military targets in inland China when deployed in Taiwan's offshore Penghu County, which lies in the Taiwan Strait, according to the report.

The future deployment of the HIMARS will enable Taiwan to strengthen its defense capabilities by striking the enemy right at the points from where it launched the attack, the report said.

Currently, Taiwan's indigenous Thunderbolt-2000 MLRS has a striking distance of 45 kilometers and can only be used to repel enemy amphibious vehicles and landing troops close to Taiwan's shore.

According to Ou's report, another factor that will contribute to a wider defensive perimeter is Taiwan's purchase of 400 Harpoon missiles from the U.S., which will be delivered starting in 2022, the report said.

They will be added to the supply of 850 acquired since 1997, which have air-launched, sea-launched, submarine-launched and land-based variants, the report said.

The Harpoon missiles will be augmented by Taiwan's 300 locally made Hsiung Feng anti-ship missiles and another 50 that will be ready by 2023, the report said, noting that one of the variants, the Hsiung Feng II, has a maximum range of 250 kilometers.

For it underwater defense, meanwhile, Taiwan's plans to commission its first indigenous submarine by 2025, gradually replacing its four aged submarines, according to the report.

It said Taiwan's Navy obviously plans to use the submarines on anti-ship missions, targeting China's troop-transport and supply ships.

The sophisticated underwater environment around Taiwan gives its military an edge, as China currently does not have strong anti-submarine warfare capabilities, despite its large number of sea assets and anti-submarine aircraft, the report said.

"HIMARS, Harpoon missiles and submarines will be the effective weapons for Taiwan in asymmetric warfare," the report said. "They will strengthen Taiwan's multi-layered defense capabilities against hostile force once put into service."

(by Emerson Lim) Enditem/pc

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